Dr. Gertrude Scott Galloway: Activist, Educator & Torchbearer

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) bids farewell to one of its iconic leaders, Dr. Gertrude “Gertie” Scott Galloway, who passed away at the age of 83 on July 17, 2014 in Austin, Texas. Dr. Galloway is a genuine trailblazer – she accomplished many firsts throughout her civic and professional endeavors.

Galloway was the first female president of the NAD (1980-1982), the first deaf superintendent of MKSD in New Jersey, known as the Marie H. Katzenbach School for the Deaf (1990-1999), the first female president of CEASD, known as the Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf (1994-1996), and the first female president of Deaf Seniors of America (1999-2005).

NAD Past President Dr. Bobbie Beth Scoggins remarked, “Gertie, your legacy of breaking glass ceilings as a Deaf woman shall carry on – you are admired and loved by so many.  We will miss your wonderful stories, your no-nonsense attitude toward life, and most of all, your laughter.


Galloway was born to deaf parents on November 12, 1930 in Washington, DC, only seven blocks from Kendall School and Gallaudet University, both of which she attended. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in 1951 from Gallaudet, then started a family and raised two daughters, Dawn and Shayne, and a son, Vance. She then taught math at the Maryland School for the Deaf while pursuing her Master’s studies in deaf education from Western Maryland College, now known as McDaniel College. Upon earning her Master’s degree in 1972, she became assistant principal of MSD’s Columbia campus. She went on to become superintendent of MKSD in 1991, and earned a doctorate in special education administration from Gallaudet in 1993.

 When the NAD turned 100 years old in 1980, Galloway became the 23rd president of the NAD at its conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, and its first female president. During her presidency, she led the effort to ensure every television broadcaster provided substantial closed captioning of television programming including a national rally against the last holdout, CBS.

Galloway had a great outlook on life and its challenges, and often said: “Dance to the wind. When the wind is hard, you can dance around it, and when the wind is soft, you can dance through it.”

NAD Past President Dr. Roslyn “Roz” Rosen remarked, “Gertie was a trailblazer in every sense of the word. She was a living legend and role model for everyone. Her ability to pinpoint and reframe the issues was amazing, such as ‘The Deaf child has the right to be Deaf.’  She also was an awesome storyteller with a wicked sense of humor. She will be sorely missed but her spirit will live on and continue to inspire us.”

In addition, her entire career was devoted to deaf education – as a teacher, an administrator, and an advocate. In 1986, President Ronald Reagan appointed Galloway to serve on the National Commission of Education for the Deaf (COED), which issued a detailed report in 1988 on improving education for deaf children, entitled “Towards Equality – Education of the Deaf.” 

“Dr. Gertrude “Gertie” Scott Galloway was an amazing person with a distinguished legacy,” said NAD President Christopher D. Wagner. “She broke many barriers and made the world a far better place for the rest of us. Through Gertie’s advocacy, education and leadership efforts, generations of deaf children and adults have advanced in equality, educational opportunities and community involvement. Her personal touch and strong leadership will be deeply missed.”